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With an openly visible alliance, will India's RAW join the CIA and Mossad to take on ISI

YB WEB DESK. Dated: 7/14/2017 8:44:42 PM

Ajit Doval, India's National Security Adviser (NSA), once a spy himself, is unassuming and bespectacled.

To look at, he is much more John Le Carre's George Smiley than Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Doval, circa 2017, has the implicit confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shadowing him, for example, on his recent and crucial bilateral visits to the US, Israel, and the broader based G20 Summit.

The NSA is said to be crafting an elaborate jigsaw, an altogether more robust foreign policy for India.

One beyond the confines of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) juggernaut, but working in close coordination with the MEA nevertheless.

The "Doval Doctrine" is marked by a lack of fear to depart from past precedents. It is driven by security considerations, pragmatism, and bilateralism, rather than ideology, or campism of any kind.

But will it also do something about the parlous state of our intelligence apparatus, beefing it up once more, to counter, amongst others, the formidable Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan?

Our Research & Intelligence Wing (RAW) has been confined, for long years now, to only intelligence gathering with its budgets slashed successive times and little or no capacity to conduct covert operations.

The opportunity has presented itself, particularly now that we have decided to partner with Israel on, as the Prime Minister puts it, an "I to I" basis. And there is the bear-hug that takes in US President Donald Trump's American worldview too. Strongman Vladimir Putin, from the KGB himself, is also very close to India, and not hostile to either of India's improved relationships.

Meanwhile, RAW is today an organisation, much diminished from the days of the last muscular Prime Minister, the Joan of Arc admiring Indira Gandhi who set it up.

This, via the depredations of successive peaceniks in South Block who pulled out quite a few of its good teeth.

This form of questionable dentistry earned Prime Minister Morarji Desai a Nishan-e-Pakistan in 1990, years after his stint as Prime Minister (March 1977-July 1979) when he actually did the dirty.

Or perhaps it was, after all the intervening years, designed to be a tit-for-tat, because of India's posthumous award of its highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, for the Independence era Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. The tall man from Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Khan, also known as "The Frontier Gandhi", was a pacifist like Mohandas Karamchand, set, but to no avail, against the Partition.

More sentimental and unilateral gestures, that have always gone badly for India, involving a further diminishment of RAW, earned Pakistani accolades for Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral who gifted India the hugely flawed "Gujral Doctrine".

The NDA1 Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee continued to toe Gujral's softer line with his bus diplomacy, and was duly betrayed with the Kargil War.

Meanwhile, since the mid-Eighties, when the ISI was created, tasked into existence by President/Dictator/General Zia Ul Haq, Pakistan has never looked askance at its most successful intelligence agency.

General Zia, who hanged his predecessor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and was, much later, blown up in a plane alongside the US Ambassador, launched the infamous policy of "a thousand cuts" towards India.


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